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Concern over installation of fences in Ditsi

By Ana Robakidze
Wednesday, May 29
Russia is acting according to its own plan and Georgian government cannot be blamed for the relocation of the occupation border in Village Ditsi, President Mikheil Saakashvili said on May 28.

"The Georgian state is a fundamental problem for them. We do not have to weaken the anti-occupation legislative regime in Georgia. I am not blaming the Georgian government for the relocation of the occupation line… Russia has its own plan. It does not care for others’ rhetoric,’’ the President said in his speech at the King David National Defense Academy.

Saakashvili stressed the importance of maintaining a strong state position in this difficult situation and the use of the correct vocabulary. “We should not remove the term “occupation” from our vocabulary, as it is our legal key,” the president said.

The issue will not be discussed during the meeting between the special Representative for Relations with Russia, Zurab Abashidze and Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of Russia, Grigori Karasin, scheduled for early June, in Prague. Abashidze explained that it is important to keep the format of the talks. Security issues shall be discussed at Geneva Talks. Therefore the parties will only discuss trade relations, problems of transportation and humanitarian-cultural relations, including relocation of the occupation line.

However, Minister of Foreign Affairs Maia Panjikidze commented on Abashidze’s statement and said that it is unbelievable that parties will avoid discussing the problem of the occupation border in Prague. Panjikidze confirms that security issues belong to the Geneva Talks format, but she is sure that Abashidze and Karasin will touch upon the problem.

Meanwhile, the Foreign Ministry released an official statement and said that installing barbed-wire fences represents “a blatant violation of the fundamental principles of international law, primarily of Georgia's territorial integrity and the inviolability of internationally recognized borders, as well as of the August 12, 2008 Ceasefire Agreement.” The ministry assesses the activities in Ditsi as a provocation and calls on the Russian Federation “to comply with the provisions of the 2008 Ceasefire Agreement.”

“The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Georgia calls upon the Russian Federation to stop the barbed-wire fence installation activities across the occupation lines of the Abkhazia and Tskhinvali regions; to comply with the provisions set out in the 2008 Ceasefire Agreement and with its commitments under international law. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs is determined to immediately inform international organizations and Georgia's foreign partners on the grave situation in Georgia's occupied regions so that they can take due action on the aforementioned illegal activities,” the statement says.

Georgian lawmakers have expressed a deep concern over the over installation of fences by the Russian troops across Ditsi village in the S. Ossetian conflict region. Chairman of the Foreign Relations Parliamentary Committee, Tedo Japaridze, calls on the international community to pay attention to the problem in Georgia’s conflict region and react to the illegal activities from the Russian side. Japaridze fears that Russia will create a serious threat to the stability in the region.

The issue has already affected the European Union Monitoring Mission (EUMM). EUMM has already sent a patrol to Ditsi in order to verify and monitor the developments on the ground. The installation of fences is planned to be discussed at the next Incident Prevention and Response Mechanism meeting, co-facilitated by the OSCE and EUMM. The meeting will take place on May 31st.